Canadian Soccer League
|Founded||1926 (as NSL)
1992 (as CNSL)
1998 (as the CPSL)
2006 (as the CSL)
|Divisions||CSL First Division
CSL Second Division
|Number of teams||16 (8 1st Div, 8 2nd Div)|
|Level on pyramid||N/A|
|Domestic cup(s)||Givova Cup|
|Current champions||York Region Shooters (First Division)
FC Ukraine United (Second Division)
|Most championships||Toronto Croatia (9 titles)
(1st in 1970)
|TV partners||Rogers Television|
The Canadian Soccer League (CSL) is an unsanctioned semi-professional soccer league in Canada, formerly sanctioned by the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) but now affiliated with the Soccer Federation of Canada (SFC). It used to be known as the Canadian Professional Soccer League (CPSL). It was renamed on May 17, 2006. CSL teams do not participate in the Canadian Championship, which determines the Canadian entry into the CONCACAF Champions League, and cannot participate in any FIFA-sanctioned events.
- 1 Competition format
- 2 History
- 3 Match-fixing controversy
- 4 Teams
- 5 CSL league executives
- 6 Championship finals
- 7 CPSL/CSL regular season records by clubs
- 8 CPSL/CSL playoff records by clubs
- 9 Ten best seasons (2001–present: 18 games played or more)
- 10 Complete team list
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
The Canadian Soccer League season runs from April/May through October/November annually. Eight teams in the league compete in a single table format. Teams play a balanced schedule of 22 games, with the top eight ranked teams advancing to the playoffs. The playoffs operate as a two-leg quarterfinal home and away series, followed by a one-game semi-final for the four surviving teams and a one-game final to crown the CSL Champions.
Origins and establishment (1993–98)
After the demise of the Canadian Soccer League (CSL) in 1992 Canada was without a Division I national professional league. The Canadian soccer landscape was fractured into several different foreign and regional senior leagues. When the CSL ceased operations three of their clubs the Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto Blizzard, and Montreal Supra joined the American Professional Soccer League, which at the time constituted as the highest tier league in the Canadian soccer structure. While the remaining clubs with the exception of London Lasers joined the National Soccer League (NSL) the country's oldest and only exclusively Canadian professional league. After the addition of the Winnipeg Fury it changed its name to the Canadian National Soccer League (CNSL).
Though the CNSL was primarily based in Ontario it operated as a private league for several years after a heated dispute with the Ontario Soccer Association (OSA). While other provinces operated with a top senior amateur league Ontario had its own senior league, but was without a sanctioned professional league for its amateur players as the CNSL was considered an outlaw league by the OSA. As a result the OSA completed a study named the Image of the Game in 1995/1996, which led to the plans of launching the Ontario Professional Soccer League as a Division III league in the Canadian soccer league system. As the OSA failed to bring their project to fruition they settled their differences with the CNSL and formed an alliance to launch the Canadian Professional Soccer League (CPSL) beginning with an Ontario division.
The CPSL would serve as the link between the provincial senior leagues to the USL A-League/USISL clubs, and provide opportunities for the development of youth players and referees.The intention of the league was to form regional divisions under the CPSL banner with each divisional champion competing in a playoff format for the championship. Michael Di Biase the CNSL president would serve as the commissioner, and OSA administrator Bill Spiers was named the league's chairman. The founding members included four CNSL clubs London City, North York Astros, St. Catharines Wolves, Toronto Croatia, and four of the OPSL teams Glen Shields, Mississauga Eagles, Toronto Olympians, and York Region Shooters. While the remaining CNSL teams like Toronto Italia, Toronto Supra, and Kosvo Albanians failed in successfully applying for membership.
Early years (1998–04)
In the initial years of the CPSL the on field performance was dominated by Toronto Olympians, and Ottawa Wizards, who had the financial support from corporations such as Coffee Time, and Oz Optics Ltd. While St. Catharines, and Toronto Croatia two well established former CNSL clubs were the prominent challengers in the early years. A change occurred in 2000 within the administration field of the league with Vince Ursini being appointed the president. The league was able to acquire a television deal with Rogers TV, which enabled the launch of their own television program the CPSL Soccer Show which would subsequently garner the highest ratings of any other Sunday program shown on the channel.As a result the league earned major sponsorship deals from Primus Canada, and the Government of Canada, which served as the sole sponsor for the CPSL Rookie of the Year Award.
In 2001, the CSA originally initiated a task force named the Canadian United Soccer League (CUSL), which formed a working partnership with the CPSL and the Canadian franchises in the USL A-League to forge a unified professional structure in the hopes of forming a Canadian first and second division domestic league. Meanwhile the CPSL continued in its original mission of providing opportunities to players to a higher platform by striking an agreement with the Toronto Lynx of the USL A-League. The player agreement deal provided the Lynx access in order to use any CPSL talent upon request, which provided the players the opportunity to play at a higher level. Another effort conducted by the league was in 2003 with the opening of their domestic cup the Open Canada Cup to all Canadian professional and amateur clubs in order to provide a potential candidate for the CONCACAF Champions' Cup. The previous time a Canadian club competed in the Champions' Cup was in the 1976 CONCACAF Champions' Cup represented by Toronto Italia in the predecessor league of the CPSL.
The league continued in its policy of selective and cautionary approach to team expansion, but witnessed a major expansion run in 2001 which went beyond the GTA and Ontario border to include a Quebec and Ottawa franchise. The following season it expanded to 14 clubs to include a Hamilton and another Toronto territory, due to the increase of teams the CPSL management decided split the league into two Conferences the Eastern and Western.
Kaplan years (2005–09)
After firmly establishing the league within the Ontario soccer structure, Ursini resigned from his position in order to fully delegate his time to his OSA obligations, and to seek election to the CSA board of directors. Former CPSL management consultant Cary Kaplan with previous experience as president of the Hamilton Bulldogs in the American Hockey League was named his successor in the capacity of a commissioner. One of his first acts was the creation of a Women's Canada Cup, as a preliminary tournament launched in the hopes of creating a future professional domestic league for women. In 2006, Kaplan began a series of reforms beginning with the creation of the National and International Division to replace the conference system. The intention of the reforms was to re-kindle the spirit of the CNSL days by promoting ethnic rivalries to increase match attendance.
A re-branding of the name was made to the Canadian Soccer League (CSL) with a new set of rules, regulations and a new constitution was established. The schedule format was changed including the relationship between the OSA and the Quebec Soccer Federation (QSF) was revised with the CSL by the signing of a "Memorandum of Understanding" which provided the CSL with an increased level of autonomy and eventual operational independence from the governing body in 2008. The outcome of the reforms witnessed a 50% increase in match attendance particularly in the GTA with the ethnic based teams attracting the most attention. Fan support would continue to increase for several seasons with the Serbian White Eagles FC, and Trois-Rivières Attak averaging the most. Media coverage was further increased after an arrangement made with Toronto Community News, which provided coverage to the league and its member clubs. While Rogers TV made additional broadcasting commitments to expand their media coverage to a full season.
Several milestones were made in the Open Canada Cup tournament with the participation of the Toronto Lynx in 2006, and the expansion of the tournament to include teams from British Columbia in 2007.The CSL began an affiliation in 2007 with the Montreal Impact of the USL First Division by fielding their farm team the Trois-Rivières Attak in the National Division. Toronto FC of the Major League Soccer (MLS) owned by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment established a relationship with the CSL in 2008 by entering TFC Academy to the National Division, and TFC Academy II to the Reserve Division. As a result, the league at the time had become associated with two of Canada's top three professional soccer franchises by providing a feeder system to the top tier. In 2008, a Reserve Division was formed to build a developmental structure within the CSL in order to provide clubs with a larger player pool, sufficient playing time for injured players to recover, and supply a developmental platform for novice players to make the transition to the professional ranks.
On May 12, 2009, the CSL announced that it had received conditional approval for membership with the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA). Thus paving the way for the CSL to create the effective player developmental system needed to provide the missing link between the top provincial amateur level to the MLS/USL on a national level.
CSA governance (2010–13)
After four and a half years as commissioner, Kaplan resigned following the 2009 season in order to devote more time to his sports marketing company with Domenic Di Gironimo hired as his replacement. In 2010, the CSL was granted full membership in the CSA as a Division III sanctioned professional league in the Canadian soccer pyramid with the CSL commissioner being awarded a seat on the CSA Professional Soccer Committee to further the planned expansion of the league to a fully national league with regional divisions under the CSL banner. The league was restructured by combining both the International & National divisions to form the CSL First Division with a single table structure. While the Reserve Division which expanded beyond the GTA boundary was reorganized in 2011 into the Second Division where it continued its traditional support role as a reserve division, and as an entry level division for teams with limited financial resources to met the standards for a First Division club. A working relationship was struck with newly formed Canadian Academy Of Futbol (CAF), which cemented a compete youth structure within the CSL infrastructure with member clubs operating their academy teams in CAF.
Shortly following the completion of the 2010 season, De Gironimo announced his resignation from the league citing irreconcilable differences. Additional achievements under De Gironimo term was the sponsorship agreement made with Givova which granted the company the naming rights to the league, and to the CSL Championship. Other major sponsorship's included Days Inns – Canada, and a record broadcasting agreement with Rogers TV, which provided coverage of 45 matches including all playoff games to the provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. Finally the addition of the Montreal Impact Academy as the second MLS academy club to join the league.
Former CPSL president and CSA financial director Vince Ursini returned to the organization as De Gironimo successor in 2011. The league's membership under Ursini's administration expanded to record amount of 28 teams in 2012 with 16 in the First Division and 12 in the Second Division. Their media coverage was broaden with a television agreement with CogecoTV , and the reintroduction of their weekly television program was picked up by Rogers TV.On September 12, 2012, accounts of alleged match-fixing was reported by the CBC that a CSL game between the Trois-Rivières Attak and Toronto Croatia held in September 2009 was fixed. In response to the allegations of match fixing the CSL issued a statement stating that the league would continue to conduct the necessary steps in order to prevent any future tampering of matches.
The 2013 season was plagued with controversy as it began before the commencement of the season with a CBC issued article written by Ben Rycroft which contained only anonymous sources that the CSA decided to no longer sanction the CSL primarily based on the alleged reports of match fixing in the league. Immediately the CSL refuted the claim, and shortly after the CSA unexpectedly and immediately de-sanctioned the CSL which was a member in good standing without due process just two months before the commencement of their season. In order to implement the James Easton Report (Rethink Management Group Report) for the adoption of a new professional soccer structure. In response to the move conducted by the CSA the league appealed to the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC), where the sport arbitrator ruled that the CSA have the right to de-sanction the CSL, but ruled that the immediate decisions and actions conducted by the CSA were unreasonable and coercive. The sport arbitrator forced them to reinstate sanctioning to the CSL until the next season in order for the CSA to work with all existing leagues to fairly implement the Easton Report. A notable admission was made by CSA president Victor Montagliani during the SDRCC hearing, where he stated that the decision to de-sanction the CSL was not made on any alleged grounds of match fixing in the CSL but strictly on the decision made by the CSA board of directors to adopt a new soccer structure in Canada.
On September 12, 2012, the CBC reported that a CSL game between the Trois-Rivières Attak and Toronto Croatia held in September 2009 was fixed. The report, which aired on the news program The National, revealed court documents showing that €15,000 ($18,000 CDN) in bribes were paid to several players on Toronto Croatia. The game was part of a larger match-fixing scandal in Europe in which six people were convicted.
On January 31, 2013, the CSA announced it was withdrawing support of the league. On March 5, 2013, CSA decertified the league because it decided to adopt recommendations from the Rethink Management Report, and not because of the match-fixing. The league, however, fought the decertification based upon the failure of the CSA to provide adequate notice to the CSL and an opportunity for the league to comment on the CSA's decision. An arbiter agreed with the CSL and denied the CSA's attempt to decertify the league in 2013, allowing the CSL to play its 2013 season under CSA governance. Following January 31, 2013 announcement, the Toronto FC academy teams withdrew from the league, followed by the Montreal Impact academy team.
On October 14, 2015, the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) released a report claiming that 42% of matches in the 2015 season showed signs of suspicious betting activity, resulting in an estimated £4.5 million in potential "fraudulent betting profits". All 12 teams had played in “suspicious” games on at least three occasions each. The report stated: “In the experience of the ICSS, the CSL has become a type of ‘rogue league’ that has not been seen before.”
On February 2, 2016 it was announced that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) opened investigations in the alleged match fixing in the CSL. The CSL welcomed the RCMP investigations, and has taken measures to monitor all games during the upcoming 2016 season.
These are the teams from the 2017 season:
CSL league executives
- Stan Adamson, executive director (2001–)
- Cary Kaplan, commissioner, (2005–2009)
- Domenic Di Geronimo, commissioner, (2010)
- Vincent Ursini, chairman, (2011–)
This is a list of all Championship finals played so far. The final was called Rogers Cup from 1998 to 2009. Since 2010 it has been called the Givova Cup due to sponsorship change.
CPSL/CSL regular season records by clubs
|1||Toronto Croatia||16 (1998–)||321||169||78||74||641||400||+241||585||1.82||5||1||4|
|2||York Region Shooters||16 (1998–)||321||154||78||89||600||426||+174||540||1.68||9||2||2|
|3||SC Toronto||12 (2001–2012)||257||117||66||74||516||363||+153||417||1.62||11||2|
|4||Brampton United||12 (2002–)||257||112||56||89||509||392||+117||392||1.53||14||1|
|5||St. Catharines Wolves||16 (1998–)||321||107||68||146||426||611||−185||389||1.21||19||3|
|6||Serbian White Eagles||8 (2006–)||178||97||38||43||356||200||+156||329||1.85||3||2||2|
|7||Trois-Rivières Attak||8 (2001–03), (2005–2009)||165||86||34||45||331||217||+114||292||1.77||7||2||1|
|8||Astros Vasas FC||16 (1998–)||320||73||59||188||413||750||−337||278||0.87||24|
|9||London City||16 (1998–)||321||63||64||194||414||852||−438||253||0.79||26|
|10||Durham Storm||8 (1998–05)||143||69||15||59||319||266||+53||222||1.55||12||3||1|
|11||Windsor Stars||8 (2004–08, 2011–)||178||60||34||84||283||319||−36||214||1.20||21|
|12||Brampton Stallions||6 (2001–06)||123||43||31||49||191||205||−14||160||1.30||17|
|13||TFC Academy||5 (2008–2012)||111||40||23||48||180||176||+4||143||1.29||18|
|14||Ottawa Wizards||3 (2001–03)||59||44||10||5||159||39||+120||142||2.41||1||3|
|15||Hamilton Thunder||4 (2002–05)||79||38||22||19||147||88||+59||136||1.72||8||1|
|16||Montreal Impact Academy||3 (2010–2012)||72||34||17||21||143||91||+52||119||1.65||10||1|
|17||Brantford Galaxy SC||3 (2010–2012)||72||26||9||37||118||172||−54||87||1.21||20|
|18||Mississauga Eagles FC||3 (1998, 2011–2012)||62||24||9||29||115||117||−2||81||1.31||16|
|19||Durham Flames||5 (1999–03)||87||20||14||53||136||231||−95||74||0.85||25|
|20||SC Waterloo Region||2 (2012–)||44||21||5||18||98||70||+28||68||1.55||13|
|21||Kingston FC||2 (2012–)||44||20||3||21||92||91||+1||63||1.43||15||1|
|22||Capital City F.C.||1 (2011)||26||15||7||4||52||22||+30||52||2.00||2|
|23||Niagara United||2 (2012–)||44||13||7||24||61||90||−29||46||1.05||22|
|24||Hamilton Croatia||1 (2010)||24||13||5||6||51||27||+24||44||1.83||4|
|25||Milltown FC||1 (2010)||24||12||7||5||43||22||+21||43||1.79||6|
|26||Burlington SC||1 (2013–)||22||7||0||15||34||56||−22||21||0.95||23|
|27||Caribbean Selects||1 (2006)||22||1||3||18||15||87||−72||6||0.18||27|
CPSL/CSL playoff records by clubs
|2||York Region Shooters||13/16||30||14||4||12||50||48||+2||46||1,533||3||1||3|
|3||Serbian White Eagles||8/8||24||11||2||8||38||33||+5||35||1,458||4||1||3|
|6||St. Catharines Wolves||6/16||12||4||2||6||15||20||−5||14||1,167||2||2|
|9||Brantford Galaxy SC||1/3||4||3||1||0||9||3||+6||10||2,500||7||1|
|11||SC Waterloo Region||1/2||3||2||1||0||8||2||+6||7||2,333||8||1|
|12||Capital City F.C.||1/1||4||2||1||1||8||3||+5||7||1,750||14||1|
|14||Montreal Impact Academy||2/3||5||2||1||2||7||5||+2||7||1,400||15||1|
|17||Astros Vasas FC||5/16||8||2||0||6||8||16||−8||6||0,750||17||1|
|23||Mississauga Eagles FC||1/3||2||0||0||2||1||8||−7||0||0,000||23|
Ten best seasons (2001–present: 18 games played or more)
|1||Serbian White Eagles||2006||22||17||4||1||55||2.50||Lost Final|
|2||Ottawa Wizards||2002||19||15||2||2||47||2.47||Won Championship|
|3||Ottawa Wizards||2003||18||13||5||0||44||2.44||Lost Semi-final|
|4||SC Toronto||2011||26||20||3||3||63||2.42||Lost Quarter-Final|
|5||Toronto Croatia||2012||22||15||6||1||51||2.32||Won Championship|
|Vaughan Shooters||2005||22||16||3||3||51||2.32||Lost Final|
|Ottawa Wizards||2001||22||16||3||3||51||2.32||Lost Semi-final|
|8||Toronto Supra||2004||20||14||4||2||46||2.30||Lost Semi-final|
|9||Toronto Croatia||2011||26||18||5||3||59||2.27||Won Championship|
|Kingston FC||2013||22||16||2||4||50||2.27||Lost Final|
Complete team list
- Major League Soccer
- North American Soccer League
- United Soccer League
- USL Premier Development League
- Canadian National Soccer League
- Canadian soccer pyramid
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- The latest names are used for clubs who had name changes, e.g. York Region was formerly known as Italia Shooters.
- The latest names are used for clubs who had name changes, e.g., Italia Shooters used to be known as Vaughan Shooters.